Defendants are facing a forfeiture allegation of five million dollars
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On March 10, 2021, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment charging 30 violent gang members with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and aiding and abetting in the possession/distribution of controlled substances, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB) Mayagüez Strike Force investigated the case.
“This arrest operation spotlights the hard work and dedicated partnership between federal and state law enforcement agencies,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We share the mission of taking violent criminals off the streets and enhancing community-wide efforts to make Puerto Rico a safer place.”
“DEA and our federal, state and local partners have not let our guard down. We remain committed to protecting our families and communities. Today’s arrests serve as an example of law enforcement’s dedication to disrupting and dismantling violent drug organizations that affect not only the citizens of Mayagüez but all of Puerto Rico,” said DEA Caribbean Division Special Agent in Charge A.J. Collazo.
The indictment alleges that from in or about the year 2017, to the date of the return of the indictment, the drug trafficking organization distributed cocaine base (commonly known as “crack”), heroin, cocaine, and marihuana, within 1,000 feet of the Manuel Hernández Rosa, commonly known as “Candelaria”, Rafael Hernández, also known as “Kennedy”, and El Carmen Public Housing Projects, and other areas in the municipality of Mayagüez, all for financial gain and profit.
As part of the conspiracy, the members of the drug trafficking gang established drug points that would move within different areas inside the public housing projects in order to avoid police detection; and operated during the day and night, at times operated 24 hours a day. Some co-conspirators would routinely possess, carry, brandish, and use firearms to protect themselves and their drug trafficking organization. Some of the sellers within the organization had access to different vehicles and would stash the narcotics in order to retrieve them when they sold the drugs. The 30 co-conspirators acted in different roles in order to further the goals of their organization, to wit: four suppliers and 26 sellers. The defendants indicted are:
Benigno Torres-Benítez, a/k/a “Porki”
Norbert A. Molina-Avilés, a/k/a “Alex Fogón”
Christian Anjul Martínez-Valentín
Emilio Rivera-Rodríguez, a/k/a “Gafas/Chino”
Abel Francisco Lozada-Colón
Rogelio A. Rivera-Acosta
Josué M. Justiniano-Méndez, a/k/a “Molle”
Gilbert Vargas-Deriux, a/k/a “Gemelo”
Alexander Justiniano-Pagán, a/k/a “Alex Tota”
Jason Nieto-Martínez, a/k/a “Milta”
José A. Velázquez-Pérez, a/k/a “Tato”
Carlos A. Rivera-Gómez, a/k/a/ “Buggie”
Joseph Toro-Pérez, a/k/a “Viejo”
Gerardo Méndez-Nazario, a/k/a “Chupi”
Gilfredo Luciano-Merle, a/k/a/ “Crayola”
Sonny B. Cardona-Zapata
Luis J. Borrero-Mejías, a/k/a “Chelo”
José L. Malavé-Cintrón, a/k/a “Pito”
José L. Rivera-Colón, a/k/a “Baby Rasta”
David Cruz-Ibarrondo, a/k/a “Davo”
Israel Rivera-Acosta, a/k/a “Yiyo/Guillo”
Ángel L. Soler-Muñiz
Christian Joel Soto-Calderón, a/k/a “Salsilla”
Walberto Rivera-Vigo, a/k/a “Wally El Pelotero”
José L. Malavé-González, a/k/a “Lichi Motora”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Myriam Fernández, Chief of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Linet Suárez are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendants face a minimum sentence of 10 years, and up to life in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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